11/03/2017 Scottish Liberal Democrats Conference


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11/03/2017

Andrew Kerr presents live coverage of the Scottish Liberal Democrats' party conference from the Dewars Centre in Perth, including keynote speech by Willie Rennie.


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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the Scottish Liberal

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Democrats Spring Conference. The leader Willie Rennie will set out

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his case for Scotland to stay part of the UK. We will have that, live.

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The MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton tells BBC Scotland his party's MPs in the

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Commons would block moves for a second independence referendum.

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And I will be here at the ice rink in Perth going over the figures from

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the conference. Spring Conference season feels

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slightly feverish as the political temperature grows around Brexit and

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an anticipated second referendum. This time it's the turn of the Lib

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Dems, brandishing their pro-European credentials by demanding a

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referendum on Britain's departure deal from the EU. As ever our

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political editor is standing by on the conference floor. Brian, good

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afternoon. The Lib Dems suffered quite a setback last year in the

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Holyrood election, bumped down to fifth place by the Greens at the

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parliamentary election. That is a polite way of putting it,

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especially after the aftermath of the Westminster outcome as well.

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Where do they believe they are now? They believe they can corral two

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positions. One, they say they are the only party pro UK and pro EU

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without any backsliding from those. They believe that is where the

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Scottish people are as well, taking account of the two referendums we've

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had in 2014 and 2016. The challenge for Willie Rennie is to change could

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let potential position in line with the zeitgeist into practical votes.

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That is rather a challenge as he, his party and others have found in

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the past. We are just hearing from the

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conference behind you. There were some comments from Alex

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Cole-Hamilton, a leading right, one of the party's MSPs in Scotland

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today saying his party would block moves in the House of Commons for

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that section 30 order. Yes, basically you have all sorts of

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numbers flying around. We are anticipating Article 50 triggered by

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the Prime Minister to begin the process of withdrawing Britain from

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the European Union. Then could there be a request from the First Minister

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perhaps at her conference this time next week, that there should be a

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transfer under section 30 of the Scotland act 1998, the one that

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deals with added powers? The added power she has in mind is the power

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is in 2014, to call a referendum and call it under legitimate powers. If

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that section 30 request is made Alex Cole-Hamilton is saying it would

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have to go through Parliament at Westminster and he says his lot

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would vote against it and seek to stop it. Thank you very much. Much

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more from you later in the programme.

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We are joined here for the duration of the programme by a man who almost

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needs no introduction, Professor John Curtis of Strathclyde

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University. Thank you for joining us. Just as Brian was saying, a

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polite way of putting it to say the Greens, the Lib Dems were bumped

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down to fifth place, of course. The truth is the Liberal Democrats have

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been in deep electoral trouble since 2011. The most recent Holyrood

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election, exactly the same as five years ruthlessly. What is now going

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on is the party is hoping, not just in Scotland but across the UK as a

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whole, to be able to use the debate about Brexit as a way of retraining

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some credibility. We saw in the Richmond by-election in London in

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the autumn, the party pulled off quite a spectacular victory and

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since then across the UK as a whole, its vote in the opinion polls has

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finally been up two or three points. It is now running at ten or 11

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rather than the 8% in the general election. It is pretty clear those

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voters gained are among those in favour of remaining. Here is the

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party first in favour of the UK joining the EU, the party most

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comfortable with the UK's mentorship of the European Union and looking to

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go back to basics as far as its message is concerned, to try and get

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voters back. The problem for the party north of the border is that

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the field is a bit more crowded, because the SNP have also been

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campaigning quite strongly in favour of Scotland remaining inside the

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European Union, and indeed that's perhaps the reason Nicola Sturgeon

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may call a second independence referendum. I think what we are

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hearing that this conference is an attempt either Liberal Democrats to

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say, hang on, we are also the real pro-EU party in Scotland, because at

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the moment at least there isn't any evidence in the polls that the party

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north of the border are profiting from the party's pro Brexit position

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in the way the party has to some degree at least done in England and

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Wales. What do you make of points made by Alex Cole-Hamilton in

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Scotland today? One has to say it was a little surprising. Gordon

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Brewer who was conducting the interview was probably also

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surprised. It has to be said it seemed to cut across the comments

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that Nick Clegg, the former party leader, gave in a briefing to

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journalists after his speech yesterday, which I think we will see

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more of later on, in which he suggested basically the same to the

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Prime Minister there should be a fatwa on a second independence

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referendum, suggesting although he didn't think there should be a

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second referendum, that the UK Parliament should not stand in the

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way of one should the request for one come. It might be suggested that

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maybe Nick Clegg, as one of the nine Liberal Democrat MPs, and as the

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party's European spokesman might be thought more of an authority on what

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his party position might be on this than Alex Cole-Hamilton, excellent

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though Alex Cole-Hamilton is. We have to see how it falls out.

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Certainly it sounded though yesterday, that unlike the

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Conservative conference last week, we were going to get an answer from

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the Democrats about what they think should happen if Nicola Sturgeon

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does request a second independence referendum. After this morning we

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are left still in a degree of confusion. Thank you. More from you

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later in the programme, as well. Earlier conference debated a motion

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looking at how to keep the United Kingdom in the EU. Central to it was

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a call for a referendum on the final terms of the deal between the UK

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Government and the rest of the EU. It began with a speech by a certain

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Alex Cole-Hamilton. Before June I have never cried about

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an election result. As a Liberal Democrat given the decade we had

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that is something of an achievement. On the morning of the 24th of June I

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wept bitterly. It felt as though I had woken to a country I no longer

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recognised. That 52% of my fellow people were at odds at everything I

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hold dear. This referendum is one on a case that has long since

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evaporated, an voodoo economics, xenophobia and amidst representation

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of our entire relationship with European institutions. And now, in

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the final analysis, the true cost of a hard Brexit is being measured out

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in the abject terror etched on faces of academics, and economists. Today

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I want to send a message to internationalists who rejected

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independence in 2014 but are sick of Brexit and are toying with it in

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order to regain their membership of the EU, Nicola Sturgeon is using

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you. Nearly half of her party who voted supported leave and already

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she is marching to the beat of their drum, desperate to keep the

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independence coalition alive she has jettisoned any reference of four

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mentorship of the EU, talking instead meekly about after and of

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customs union. They cannot be trusted by those of us who care

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about Europe. I'm going to go against the majority

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view of this party for the simple reason it is unrealistic and

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unfeasible. As much as it pains me to say this, the UK is leaving the

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European Union and anyone who disagrees with Brexit is publicly

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attacked by the right-wing media. Now I never had a say in it, but I

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respect the view of England and Wales. But I also respect the will

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of the Scottish people to remain, which I believe we must honour at

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all costs. To do so is democratically acceptable and it is

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of paramount importance that we defend our place in the European

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Union. We simply cannot afford to fall in the footsteps of Labour and

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the Conservatives in not respecting the European Union result in

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Scotland. On independence, I was a no

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supporter in 2014, but then I saw what happened last year. I changed

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my mind, although I did love the UK, I've witnessed a sharp right turn in

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people's views, talking about our friends, teachers, our colleagues

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and doctors, like they're aliens with a vicious plot to destroy our

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country. I don't want to live and an intolerant UK overrun by right-wing

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populists. I want Scotland to be a member of a progressive, outward

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looking confident with our friends at the European Union. Yesterday I

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read an article by a Spanish member of the European Parliament, saying

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they won't veto Scottish membership of the EU. I also saw an editor 's

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Mori poll showing support for independence is neck and neck at the

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moment. What does this show? It shows that more people in our

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country are starting to think like me, and that obstacles are slowly

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deteriorating. I'm unable to plan my future here

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because I have a sword above me. Not only I didn't get a voice in the EU

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referendum, but the Tory government had the audacity to use me and my

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fellow EU expatriates as a bargaining chip in the hard Brexit

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negotiations. We are threatened lose our job, our house, our lives that

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we've built here. A very complex 85 page form for permanent residence.

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Lib Dem research showed 28% of them, including those with British

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families and children, have been rejected, sometimes for an un-ticked

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box and we were told to be prepared to leave this country.

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The former Deputy Prime Minister has warned delegates at the conference

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that Brexit could lead to the end of the United Kingdom. Nick Clegg told

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the audience to be on their guard against despair and defeatism and

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attempted to make arguments for liberal values, at a time when he

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sees national was on the rise. Brian Taylor caught up with him.

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Nick Clegg, Thank you for joining us. With regard to Brexit, I get the

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concept, but now we are where we are, what is your objective now,

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what are you seeking? The main objective is now to give the British

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people a proper say about what happens next, because let's remember

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the referendum on the 23rd of June last year gave the mandate of the

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government to proceed with Brexit, but it gave the British people

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absolutely no idea, no depiction or notion of what kind of Brexit.

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There's a lot of different versions of Brexit. The Brexiteers cleverly

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and cynically withheld from the British people any description of

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what kind of Brexit they were pursuing. The reason they withheld

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that is they didn't want to frighten the horses at the time. So they won

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a surprising victory in the ballot box, but the cost of a complete sort

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of vacuum as to what happens next. Of course, it should be the British

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people in charge of our collective fate, just as they were in terms of

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the initial decision. That's why we say when we finally know what Brexit

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finally in tales from subsidies to fisheries to our trade relations and

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so on, give the British people the first say in what Brexit really

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means in substance. With that further referendum be only on the

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details of the terms or might it involve reversing Brexit altogether,

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putting a stop to it altogether? If the British people were to say when

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we're right at the edge of the cliff at that point, we don't want to jump

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off and we'd rather stay on terra firma, clearly it would be then for

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us as a nation to decide whether we are after all want to stay in the

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European Union. My own view... You could see as a prospect, that Brexit

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doesn't happen? I can only see that as a prospect of the British people

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change their mind. It seems to me that one of the absolute central

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elements of any democracy is the freedom to change your mind when the

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facts change. Now at the moment we don't know what Brexit looks like. I

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hope people like me, will have the humility that if Brexit turns out to

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be a wonderful success, as Boris Johnson says, it will be

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splendiferous and a wonderful utopia. The deal? Yes, then I hope

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people like me would have the humility to say we were wrong.

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Equally, just imagine if the numerous predictions that Brexit

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isn't going to be a walk in a park or an economic paradise, creating

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difficulties for families up and down the country you should give the

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family is the right to say what then happens. Theresa May would say a

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parliamentary vote on the Parliamentary vote would be yes to

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the terms or we leave without any terms. You are saying there should

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be a public, popular vote and it would be either yes to the terms or

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we stay in Europe? Theresa May's position at the moment is ludicrous.

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She says Parliament should have a vote but I will only give Parliament

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vote between what might be a bad deal, so a rubbish deal, and chaos.

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Since when is any Parliament, let alone the mother of all

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Parliaments... What we are saying is if and when there is a deal, if and

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when there is a deal you then have a choice. Either Theresa May decides

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legally on behalf of the whole nation whether we go ahead with it

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or not, or the politicians do, or the people. I think in keeping with

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the initial kind of decision to proceed towards Brexit, the decision

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to finally sort of sign and seal it should be taken by the people.

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Either way, this is not some sort of kooky Lib Dem idea but advocated by

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David Davis, John Redwood and many Brexiteers in the past. They've now

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rather conveniently fallen silent because they think they have the

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country over a barrel and are going to proceed with hard Brexit at any

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cost. You would put the alternative accept the terms of the deal or stay

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in the European Union, that would be the alternative? Or go back to the

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negotiating table. A multiple option? I think when you have the

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referendum, as we know for better or for worse, referendums are guilty of

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simplifying difficult choices, now you know what Brexit entails and

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what it means for your family, do you still want it yes or no. And no

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would be used in the European Union? I think legally no would of course

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be Britain... And I suspect many other European countries would hold

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their heads in the hands that Britain said we want to go, then

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stay, and then stay after all. I know having spoken to many leaders

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of the European Union, however sad they are Britain wants to leave on

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how exasperated they are by this coming and going over the 40 years

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we've been a member of the European Union, they all, they all in the

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final instance believe it would be better for the European Union to be

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a family of nations working together, rather than falling apart.

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Some of your rivals would call this... Saying it was a way of

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getting around June 23. Do you think it's feasible Britain will remain in

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the EU at the end of this process? I think it is possible, not

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necessarily likely but possible. Events are changing so dramatically.

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I will tell you why I don't think it's impossible. If you and I had

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received, and millions of other voters, in the run-up to the

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referendum in June, had received a manifesto will with photos of Boris

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Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove on the front cover and a nice

:17:33.:17:35.

introduction saying, this is our collective view of the kind of

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Brexit we want, in and out of the singles market and Customs union and

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so on, then people like me would now not have a leg to stand on, because

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not only would they have gained the mandate to proceed towards Brexit,

:17:49.:17:51.

they would have gained the mandate from the British people on the terms

:17:52.:17:55.

of the Brexit. They very deliberately and cynically didn't do

:17:56.:18:00.

that. They actually still don't agree among themselves about what

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sort of Brexit they want. That is why there is still a decision to be

:18:04.:18:07.

made, which is yes we are proceeding towards Brexit. We don't know what

:18:08.:18:11.

kind of Brexit. That surely... It's not a technical matter, it's a

:18:12.:18:15.

matter of profound constitutional significance, what kind of Brexit,

:18:16.:18:20.

hard Brexit or soft Brexit, a disruptive one or less disruptive

:18:21.:18:23.

one. The people should have the final say. Nick Clegg, thank you

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very much indeed for joining me. Nick Clegg there are of course.

:18:28.:18:35.

Brian is back live now. Yes, joined by two parliamentarians.

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Thank you both for joining us. Mike Rumbles and Mike Purvis. Let's talk

:18:42.:18:48.

Europe first of all. We've been hearing that Europe debate, the

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contributions from Nick Clegg, the former leader. You talk about this

:18:53.:18:57.

referendum on the Brexit terms. That is a diddle, a way of saying we lost

:18:58.:19:02.

and with sore and we want to run the contest again. The point we made

:19:03.:19:05.

repeatedly in the House of Lords, and we were the strongest in the

:19:06.:19:08.

House of Lords when it came to trying to change the Article 50 bill

:19:09.:19:13.

to reflect what I think it's a growing desire in the country, it's

:19:14.:19:16.

the people who should decide, weather and exit deal with the EU is

:19:17.:19:22.

in their interest. The voters of leave would say your loss, give in

:19:23.:19:28.

and don't try and run it again. To hold it again and again until you

:19:29.:19:31.

get the answer you like stubble or they might say that but they would

:19:32.:19:34.

be arguing probably the same case they have been arguing for 25 years

:19:35.:19:38.

and longer. We can set that aside. The real issue is the youngest

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people, many of which were not in referendum at all, the 16 and

:19:46.:19:49.

17-year-olds, will have an average 60 years to live with this

:19:50.:19:52.

consequence of what will be decided in the next few years, we believe

:19:53.:19:56.

very strongly they should decide if the exit deal is in the best

:19:57.:20:00.

interests for themselves. That's why we made the case in Parliament. We

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will continue to make that case on Monday in the House of Lords,

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because I believe the people are the best of the is the best deal or not.

:20:11.:20:15.

Mike Rumbles, on the point of principle, if you like. Isn't it

:20:16.:20:18.

arguable that you should now just accept the position and try without

:20:19.:20:25.

rather than seeking to overturn it? I think the differences we accept

:20:26.:20:29.

the decision of the British on the referendum but when the referendum

:20:30.:20:34.

negotiations are over it shouldn't be the Prime Minister and Cabinet to

:20:35.:20:38.

decide on the terms with which we leave the EU. We need to know what

:20:39.:20:41.

the deal is and we need to tell the British people and the British

:20:42.:20:44.

people are sovereign on this. We should be saying to them, here is

:20:45.:20:48.

the deal the Prime Minister has negotiated. Do you want to accept

:20:49.:20:51.

this deal or not? The first referendum was only the start of the

:20:52.:20:55.

process. The end of the process is a rubber stamp from the voters, from

:20:56.:21:02.

the people, to save this is right or wrong. Let's talk about the House of

:21:03.:21:05.

Lords again. You mentioned the Lords have sent it back to the Commons

:21:06.:21:10.

with two crucial amendment, saying there should be an actual real

:21:11.:21:13.

Parliamentary vote at the end and there should be a sanction the EU

:21:14.:21:21.

members to stay. If the Commons just chuck throws back on this know is

:21:22.:21:25.

that the end of it or do you see it going back and forth? We believe

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very strongly these are of fundamental importance. Whether the

:21:31.:21:34.

Labour Party will crumble in the House of Commons as they did in the

:21:35.:21:37.

House of Lords we will see on Monday evening. This is something where, we

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are the party that wanted to reform the Lords, we wanted it to be a

:21:43.:21:48.

democratic -- democratically elected chamber. We will use those powers

:21:49.:21:53.

and if anything, the speech I made in the Article 50, I'm casting votes

:21:54.:21:57.

for the next generation and for the young people in Scotland and across

:21:58.:22:01.

the whole of the UK that didn't vote for Brexit, they need a voice and I

:22:02.:22:07.

want to be that voice. Today they will argue the Liberal Democrats can

:22:08.:22:12.

represent a majority, pro-EU, pro-UK, a majority in Scotland

:22:13.:22:15.

because of the outcome of the two referendums but you are not

:22:16.:22:18.

demonstrating that on the ground in terms of popular support. We are

:22:19.:22:23.

starting from a pretty low level but going upwards. The opinion polls are

:22:24.:22:28.

up, our council elections victory is a wrap. All measures of electoral

:22:29.:22:31.

support are up. We have a tremendous opportunity now to convince the

:22:32.:22:37.

Scottish people that we are the only party out there that want the United

:22:38.:22:40.

Kingdom together and want to be in the European Union. Do you expect

:22:41.:22:45.

there to be a second referendum on independence? Do you expect that to

:22:46.:22:49.

happen? I don't expect it to happen because the First Minister doesn't

:22:50.:22:53.

have a mandate for it. If it comes to the Scottish Parliament, we are

:22:54.:22:56.

committed to voting against this because there is no mandate. I tell

:22:57.:23:00.

you why, because she is usurping my vote on the vote of many people like

:23:01.:23:05.

me last year when she says Scotland voted to stay in the European Union.

:23:06.:23:09.

On the ballot paper, my ballot paper said we wanted the UK to remain in

:23:10.:23:13.

the European Union. She doesn't have a mandate. Nick Clegg takes a

:23:14.:23:17.

different view and says they shouldn't be a fatwa from the Prime

:23:18.:23:21.

Minister. Admittedly he says he's against the idea of a second

:23:22.:23:26.

referendum. Would you as part of parliamentarians at Westminster seek

:23:27.:23:29.

to block the section 30 power being transferred back to Scotland?

:23:30.:23:33.

Currently we have no idea what Nicola Sturgeon is wanting to put

:23:34.:23:36.

forward and we have no idea what Theresa May and the Conservatives

:23:37.:23:40.

are doing. Clarity on the Liberal Democrat position. There is no

:23:41.:23:46.

question that needs to be clarity. Mike has given the position... From

:23:47.:23:51.

the Scottish party that we don't even want it to get out of Holyrood,

:23:52.:23:56.

because we stood on our manifesto campaign. There's no question.

:23:57.:24:00.

Anyone watching the should have no question, we don't support another

:24:01.:24:04.

Scottish referendum. Even if the people... We had the referendum

:24:05.:24:09.

once, once-in-a-lifetime. That was supposed to close down the whole

:24:10.:24:13.

issue. The difference with the European referendum is that

:24:14.:24:18.

referendum last year started the process and we need to finish it.

:24:19.:24:23.

What we should have done in the independence referendum, that was a

:24:24.:24:26.

stop and close because the Scottish people clearly said no, we want to

:24:27.:24:31.

stay within the United Kingdom. I beg your pardon, we have to stop

:24:32.:24:36.

there, going into the hall itself... Willie Rennie is about to speak,

:24:37.:24:37.

let's hear him. Thank you for that very warm welcome

:24:38.:24:55.

and thank you for joining our team of spokespeople. I know you will be

:24:56.:24:59.

a great addition to the team, applying that strong and determined

:25:00.:25:03.

mind to the environment. Thank you again for that introduction.

:25:04.:25:10.

APPLAUSE 2017 of the year of anniversaries in

:25:11.:25:14.

the Rennie family. My parents marked their 60th year of

:25:15.:25:22.

marriage. Janet and I celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Our first

:25:23.:25:29.

son Alexander was born 21 years ago. And just for a bit of advance

:25:30.:25:34.

warning, my 50th is in September! LAUGHTER

:25:35.:25:40.

Janet and I set up our first home in a little village in Cornwall.

:25:41.:25:48.

Alexander was born in the hospital in Plymouth. My father served his

:25:49.:25:53.

National Service in Staffordshire. My first proper job was in Cornwall.

:25:54.:26:01.

My son's first job was at Butlins in Somerset. That's my family. Our

:26:02.:26:08.

family story is like so many others in Scotland, and the rest of the

:26:09.:26:12.

United Kingdom. Our lives are intertwined, connected, we are one.

:26:13.:26:20.

Our lives are intertwined as well with people from all across Europe

:26:21.:26:27.

who have set up their home here. Europeans who live, work, pay their

:26:28.:26:30.

taxes, have married and brought up their families here. Like my Polish

:26:31.:26:36.

sister-in-law moniker, living and working in Scotland for a decade and

:26:37.:26:40.

now choosing to make Homer with her new family here in Scotland. We are

:26:41.:26:48.

one. So the debate on the constitution is personal. It's not a

:26:49.:26:53.

dry and dusty debate about government structures. It's about

:26:54.:27:01.

family, community, destiny. I want to bring communities and peoples

:27:02.:27:05.

together, not drive them apart. That is why I will oppose erecting a

:27:06.:27:11.

barrier, any barrier, in the heart of my family. Just like I will

:27:12.:27:15.

oppose erecting a barrier, any barrier, in the heart of the United

:27:16.:27:21.

Kingdom more European Union. The United Kingdom is our family, the

:27:22.:27:25.

European Union is our family and we stand together with our family.

:27:26.:27:26.

APPLAUSE Erecting barriers and division

:27:27.:27:46.

between us and the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland

:27:47.:27:52.

with independence is just as objectionable as the division we are

:27:53.:27:55.

seeing with the people of Europe, as a result of Brexit. It upsets me

:27:56.:28:02.

when I hear conservatives describing European people as takers not

:28:03.:28:06.

givers. That somehow they are only interested in what they can get from

:28:07.:28:14.

our welfare state and NHS. It upsets me when I hear Nationalists describe

:28:15.:28:22.

British people as the far right, selfish, mean-spirited and insular.

:28:23.:28:28.

Conservatives want me to choose my British family over my European

:28:29.:28:33.

family. Nationalists want me to choose my European family over my

:28:34.:28:36.

British family. My message to them both is clear... I choose my family

:28:37.:28:42.

over your division. APPLAUSE

:28:43.:28:53.

It looks as if the First Minister is determined to rerun the referendum

:28:54.:29:02.

of only three years ago. It is not a battle I want. After all the

:29:03.:29:08.

divisions of the last campaign, and we will not vote for it. But if the

:29:09.:29:14.

Nationalists think that by asking the question over and over again

:29:15.:29:19.

they will beat us into submission, then they need to think again. And

:29:20.:29:25.

by the way, it will take more than threatening to bring back Alex

:29:26.:29:30.

Salmond to make us change our mind, too. I will stand up for our United

:29:31.:29:36.

Kingdom family. We will lead the way on the kind of campaign for the

:29:37.:29:41.

United Kingdom that we want to see. We should set the terms.

:29:42.:29:47.

There is much talk about the economy. I am sure some businesses

:29:48.:29:52.

may benefit from independence. I have heard there is particular

:29:53.:29:58.

excitement at the prospect of an order is room at the flag factories

:29:59.:30:05.

of Falkirk and the face painters of Arbroath. I can tell you, they are

:30:06.:30:09.

absolutely over the moon at the prospect of another independence

:30:10.:30:13.

referendum. But we know the economic case for independence is weaker than

:30:14.:30:20.

even in 2014. So I will not dwell on that today. The new case for the

:30:21.:30:28.

United Kingdom is a positive, uplifting one that focuses on the

:30:29.:30:33.

ties that bind us rather than the differences that some would use to

:30:34.:30:37.

divide us. It is that emotional case, it is the liberal case for

:30:38.:30:41.

unity, the compassionate case, it goes to the heart of who we are.

:30:42.:30:47.

Britain is full of people who care. We together care about the

:30:48.:30:51.

environment, poverty at home and abroad, the sick the elderly, the

:30:52.:30:58.

young. Our country is jammed of people who want a better world. The

:30:59.:31:04.

Oxford committee for famine relief was a group of concerned citizens

:31:05.:31:11.

who first met in 1942 to relieve famine in Greece. You know what,

:31:12.:31:18.

today they are Oxfam. In the wake of the First World War one woman and

:31:19.:31:24.

her sister campaigned for children. In the early 20s they filled a ship

:31:25.:31:32.

with 600 tonnes of aid bound for Russia, to save the lives of 300,000

:31:33.:31:39.

children and more than 350,000 adults. Save the children now helps

:31:40.:31:48.

over 17 million children every year. Both charities, born in the heart of

:31:49.:31:53.

Britain, showing compassion to the world. British people with

:31:54.:31:59.

compassion and care, and digging into their pocket. We should

:32:00.:32:04.

celebrate our generosity and compassion, it is a mark of who we

:32:05.:32:08.

are. No Scottish Nationalists will tell me I should be ashamed of that.

:32:09.:32:11.

I am proud of who we are. APPLAUSE

:32:12.:32:24.

And that compassion has built some of the best public services too. It

:32:25.:32:31.

is why we built the best Health Service in the world. The second

:32:32.:32:36.

biggest aid budget in the world. The welfare state to help people in

:32:37.:32:40.

need. Public compassion has driven that state action. Of course, there

:32:41.:32:45.

are political differences within our country. But so there are in

:32:46.:32:50.

Scotland too. You just need to travel from Perth here to Dundee to

:32:51.:32:56.

see those differences. Think about this - there are ten times as many

:32:57.:33:00.

Remain voters in England as there are in Scotland. Think about this -

:33:01.:33:06.

the majority of people in England did not vote for the Conservatives.

:33:07.:33:13.

Just because some English people have repugnant views does not make

:33:14.:33:18.

the entirety of them repugnant. Just as some Scottish people have

:33:19.:33:23.

offensive opinions, does not make us all offensive either. Nigel Farage,

:33:24.:33:32.

that tweed clad xenophobe is not representative of all English

:33:33.:33:40.

people, just as Edward Coburn is not represent idea of all Scots. I

:33:41.:33:44.

admire the great historical figures of progress from all parts of

:33:45.:33:52.

Britain. Emlin ParkHurst on votes for women. William beverage,

:33:53.:33:57.

building the Welfare State, our United Kingdom is an uplifting,

:33:58.:34:02.

mutely beneficial partnership that we should cherish, not thrash.

:34:03.:34:15.

APPLAUSE So if we head into another

:34:16.:34:20.

referendum, the responsibility on liberals is great. We must stand up

:34:21.:34:26.

and be counted for our values. This is a Battle of Ideas, not of

:34:27.:34:31.

identities and flags. We must stand up for our family, whether in

:34:32.:34:37.

Britain or across Europe. We must make the positive, open

:34:38.:34:41.

internationalist case, tell our friends about how compassionate,

:34:42.:34:43.

tolerant and generous the United Kingdom is. Send a message of hope

:34:44.:34:49.

that things can be better still. We should be like Laura Muir, always

:34:50.:34:55.

willing to run another lap. We can turn back the tide of division. We

:34:56.:34:59.

can celebrate both our differences and the tie that is bind us. We can

:35:00.:35:04.

say no to independence and yes to partnership. We can once and for all

:35:05.:35:09.

put an end to the claim that if you do not believe in independence, you

:35:10.:35:13.

do not believe in Scotland. APPLAUSE

:35:14.:35:24.

So if our First Minister gambles with our country again, I can tell

:35:25.:35:31.

you now that the Liberal Democrats will campaign for Scotland's

:35:32.:35:35.

partnership with the United Kingdom. We will not just campaign with

:35:36.:35:40.

numbers on a spreadsheet, but with smiles in our hearts. I want all

:35:41.:35:45.

people who live in this country to rise up and say we stand with our

:35:46.:35:51.

neighbours. That we cherish the compassion of British people and we

:35:52.:35:55.

value our partnership. Our job is to turn back the tied of division.

:35:56.:35:57.

APPLAUSE The Conservatives have been gambling

:35:58.:36:13.

too. Their EU referendum gamble put their party before our country.

:36:14.:36:18.

Reckless on the economy. Risking our security. Threatening our

:36:19.:36:22.

environment. Diminishing our place in the world. Holding Donald Trump's

:36:23.:36:29.

tiny hand. All to unite a fractured party. More interested in reaching

:36:30.:36:35.

for the past than recognising the modern Britain we have become. This

:36:36.:36:41.

is the biggest change in our international posture in a

:36:42.:36:47.

generation. From partnership through global organisations, to a futile

:36:48.:36:53.

attempt to build our own power base in the world. Theresa May knows the

:36:54.:37:02.

price of Brexit. Ruth Davidson, she knows the cost, but they both charge

:37:03.:37:07.

towards the cliff at an ever faster rate. In the Budget, the Chancellor

:37:08.:37:14.

had to create a war chest to fight off the effects of Brexit. It's a

:37:15.:37:26.

colossal ?60 billion. On our own doorstep, a university has told us

:37:27.:37:31.

that they're cutting 100 jobs and say Brexit is one of the reasons.

:37:32.:37:37.

And the prices in the shops are on the rise. Energy prices are on the

:37:38.:37:42.

rise. Jobs are being lost. That's the hard cost of a Conservative

:37:43.:37:47.

Brexit. It is hitting us in our pockets and costing our country dear

:37:48.:37:52.

and we haven't even left the European Union. It turns out the

:37:53.:37:56.

Conservatives are building a wall and they're expecting us to pay for

:37:57.:38:01.

it. It's reckless and we will oppose it.

:38:02.:38:11.

APPLAUSE Now, of course, we must respect the

:38:12.:38:18.

result of the referendum. But political leaders have got a

:38:19.:38:22.

responsibility to lead. And leadership is what this country is

:38:23.:38:28.

missing at one of the most significant periods in modern

:38:29.:38:37.

political times. Labour has shown an astonishing level of indifference to

:38:38.:38:41.

the fate of our country. No challenge. No questions. Just

:38:42.:38:49.

compliance. They have turned the fine tradition of her imagine tee's

:38:50.:38:56.

loyal opposition to her imagine tee's obedient opposition. That's

:38:57.:39:00.

why it would only be right for the British people to take charge of the

:39:01.:39:05.

final say on whatever deal is agreed by the Conservative Government with

:39:06.:39:10.

the EU. A Brexit deal referendum is the right and democratic thing to

:39:11.:39:15.

do. When they look back at this time, our grandchildren will be

:39:16.:39:22.

astonished that they did not take our time and ask ourselves the

:39:23.:39:26.

question whether we really wanted this. When the Brexit deal proves to

:39:27.:39:36.

be so damaging, why would we not ask the British people a new question? I

:39:37.:39:41.

told this conference in the autumn that I will not give up on Europe

:39:42.:39:46.

and I won't. We can win the case. Public opinion can change. We saw it

:39:47.:39:55.

with the invasion of Iraq. From jeering our Charles Kennedy in the

:39:56.:40:01.

street at the start, people turned to oppose the Iraq war. Political

:40:02.:40:06.

leadership is sometimes about persuading people, not just

:40:07.:40:09.

repeating what the last focus group told you. That's followership, when

:40:10.:40:17.

the jobs are lost and the mortgages rise and the prices ib cease and the

:40:18.:40:21.

foreign investment declines and the cost becomes ever more apparent, the

:40:22.:40:25.

mood, the view, the opinion of the merit of Brexit will go into

:40:26.:40:29.

reverse. Our job, as Liberal Democrats, will be to be there, to

:40:30.:40:33.

be the gathering place, to give the leadership to win the cause, that's

:40:34.:40:37.

our purpose and that is what we will do.

:40:38.:40:38.

APPLAUSE The Conservatives have abandoned the

:40:39.:40:55.

internationalist posture. This country has built over generations.

:40:56.:41:01.

The Labour Party timidly accept that approach. The SNP was to compound

:41:02.:41:06.

the break-up of Europe with a break-up of the United Kingdom. And

:41:07.:41:12.

this week, we heard from Jim Sellers. He says he won't back

:41:13.:41:17.

independence if it means being in the European Union. He speaks for

:41:18.:41:25.

one in three independent supporters who also backed Brexit. Alex Salmond

:41:26.:41:34.

have been unusually coy on this subject. You haven't heard any

:41:35.:41:42.

senior nationalist say the only way to keep Scotland in the EU is to

:41:43.:41:51.

have independence. They used to say that all of the time. They did that,

:41:52.:41:55.

didn't they? Do you remember? They used to say it all the time. Now,

:41:56.:42:01.

they never do. They now say that their dissatisfaction with the UK

:42:02.:42:06.

Government transcends the issue of Europe. So the evidence is mounting.

:42:07.:42:13.

The nationalists are preparing a sell-out of Europe in a desperate

:42:14.:42:19.

bid to win independence. Some people have thought about whether perhaps

:42:20.:42:23.

Scottish independence is the best way to stay in the EU. But it's

:42:24.:42:30.

clear to me that if you trust the SNP on this then you are going to be

:42:31.:42:36.

disappointed. So let me tell you of the fundamental risk that

:42:37.:42:41.

independence now poses. It is to leave Scotland outside the United

:42:42.:42:44.

Kingdom, and outside the European Union. The worst of all worlds. What

:42:45.:42:50.

a disaster that would be. APPLAUSE

:42:51.:43:00.

I tell you, there is a better way. The best way for us to stay in the

:43:01.:43:05.

European Union is through the United Kingdom, with the economic

:43:06.:43:08.

consequences of Brexit becoming clear, people like John Major, Alan

:43:09.:43:12.

Johnson, Tony Blair, backing a re-think. Our victory in Richmond

:43:13.:43:18.

Park showing there is momentum in the UK for change. We have the

:43:19.:43:25.

nation's eyes upon us and we won. Even Bob Geldof campaigned in

:43:26.:43:28.

Richmond High Street with me! By the way, it was a good job he came on a

:43:29.:43:33.

Wednesday because I'm told he doesn't like Mondays!

:43:34.:43:38.

I knew you would love that one. You have to be of a certain age to

:43:39.:43:43.

understand that one! I noticed you all laughed. Pro-EU

:43:44.:43:49.

people should not fall for the nationalist trick. They should back

:43:50.:43:56.

the only pro EU party, the party that will never use Europe for

:43:57.:44:00.

narrow ends. The party that has always stood up for Europe. The

:44:01.:44:05.

Scottish Liberal Democrats. APPLAUSE

:44:06.:44:15.

It is the Liberal Democrats that speak for the majority of people in

:44:16.:44:24.

our country. A majority of people in Scotland voted for Scotland to

:44:25.:44:30.

remain in the United Kingdom. We stand with them. And a majority of

:44:31.:44:34.

people in Scotland voted for the United Kingdom to remain in the

:44:35.:44:38.

European Union. And we stand with them too. No one else stands with

:44:39.:44:45.

the majority of Scotland for the United Kingdom and for the European

:44:46.:44:51.

Union. Liberal Democrats do. And we will stand against the actions of

:44:52.:44:55.

the political fire raisers of our time. A majority of people in

:44:56.:45:00.

Scotland want to keep the United Kingdom, but the SNP want to burn it

:45:01.:45:05.

down. They do not speak for Scotland. And a majority of people

:45:06.:45:09.

in Scotland want to keep the European Union, but the

:45:10.:45:12.

Conservatives want to burn that down. They do not speak for

:45:13.:45:17.

Scotland. They are each lighting the match in response to the actions of

:45:18.:45:22.

the others, determined to start fires that threaten our economy,

:45:23.:45:26.

security, and our environment. Scotland has had enough of their

:45:27.:45:31.

fire raising. It is our job to put those fires out.

:45:32.:45:41.

APPLAUSE And it doesn't have to be like this.

:45:42.:45:47.

We can build a better future for the whole UK. Last week Kezia Dugdale

:45:48.:45:55.

made the case for federalism. Welcome Kez! It makes a change to

:45:56.:46:02.

see Labour fighting the battles of 2017, not 1983 or 1970 in Moscow in

:46:03.:46:07.

John McDonnell's case. LAUGHTER

:46:08.:46:11.

We have the opportunity to build something bigger. To grow the

:46:12.:46:16.

movement for a federal UK. It's federalism that we have been

:46:17.:46:22.

advocating for 100 years. In the last 20, we have seen the idea

:46:23.:46:28.

develop. Power is now shared around the UK more than ever before. We can

:46:29.:46:36.

do more. Federalism is the wrong term and viable future for the UK

:46:37.:46:41.

that saves us from the forces of perpetual division. It would move us

:46:42.:46:46.

on from the Punch and Judy show of Westminster versus the rest. So that

:46:47.:46:52.

is why I can tell you today that I have appointed Jeremy Purvis to lead

:46:53.:46:55.

a new group that will work with people from other parties and none

:46:56.:46:59.

to develop the case for federalism in the United Kingdom. More and more

:47:00.:47:05.

people from different parties and different parts of Britain are

:47:06.:47:09.

looking at federalism. We will be there to help bring them together.

:47:10.:47:15.

If you are tired of division, tired of history repeating and repeating

:47:16.:47:20.

and repeating, fed-up with the fires that destroy then it is the time to

:47:21.:47:26.

try something new. Federalism is the stable, secure and respectful future

:47:27.:47:32.

that we can bring. APPLAUSE

:47:33.:47:42.

And while the SNP and Conservatives are busy lighting fires, they ignore

:47:43.:47:48.

the need to get on with the day job. There is work to be done. Scottish

:47:49.:47:54.

education used to be one of the best in the world. It is now slipping

:47:55.:48:03.

down the international rankings. Reforms, they're chaotic and

:48:04.:48:08.

regressive. On mental health, we once had a world leading mental

:48:09.:48:15.

health strategy. But now we don't even have one anymore. The SNP have

:48:16.:48:22.

left it to rot. During the Budget talks with the SNP we discovered

:48:23.:48:28.

that they are much further behind on mental health than even we feared.

:48:29.:48:35.

The SNP reeled against the council tax for decades, describing it as

:48:36.:48:42.

evil and unfair. But now they have saved it from abolition. They

:48:43.:48:49.

ignored their own independent commission, forced through arbitrary

:48:50.:48:53.

increase and rocked the council tax in place for another generation. And

:48:54.:49:00.

then there is Keith Brown, our economy secretary. Not only is our

:49:01.:49:06.

economy lagging behind the rest of the UK, with growth slower,

:49:07.:49:11.

employment lower, productivity still behind, there was Amazon. He paid

:49:12.:49:16.

them millions of pounds in grants, but didn't bother to check if they

:49:17.:49:21.

paid the proper Living Wage. And then there was China. He got the

:49:22.:49:29.

First Minister, his boss, to sign an agreement worth, we were told, a

:49:30.:49:35.

whopping ?10 billion, but he didn't bother to check on their Human

:49:36.:49:40.

Rights record first. It was not good. One stands accused of

:49:41.:49:47.

corruption and abuse in Africa. And he didn't bother to check if the

:49:48.:49:54.

company had any money to spend, but it turns out they didn't, they run a

:49:55.:50:02.

pub in the Cotswolds! This is true. LAUGHTER

:50:03.:50:05.

No Living Wage, no Human Rights check, no money. . These people

:50:06.:50:10.

aspire to run an independent country, but they do not run a Human

:50:11.:50:16.

Rights check-in a china shop up the Amazon!

:50:17.:50:26.

APPLAUSE But it does not have to be like

:50:27.:50:31.

this. Liberal Democrats engage constructively with the Scottish

:50:32.:50:36.

Government to try to make improvements, big improvements, to

:50:37.:50:41.

its budget. Ours was a ?400 million package for our economy through

:50:42.:50:46.

investing in people. For mental health, with support for early

:50:47.:50:50.

intervention and in primary care the police and A departments. For

:50:51.:50:56.

investment in colleges, to bring back part-time courses especially

:50:57.:51:00.

for women and mature students. For a pupil premium in schools that has

:51:01.:51:05.

been proven to give poorer children the opportunity to be all they can

:51:06.:51:11.

be. For more cash into our police to help them recover from the botched

:51:12.:51:17.

SNP centralisation. This was a chance for the Scottish Parliament

:51:18.:51:22.

to use the new powers that we argued and campaigned for. This was a

:51:23.:51:26.

chance to deliver a positive programme of reform to make our

:51:27.:51:31.

country the best again. But this was a missed chance because the SNP just

:51:32.:51:36.

wouldn't do it because they had their eye on a very different prize.

:51:37.:51:42.

It's time to get on with the day job, to focus on our people, to make

:51:43.:51:46.

a difference for everyone. This is not the time to divide our country

:51:47.:51:51.

once again with yet another independence debate.

:51:52.:52:02.

APPLAUSE And there are six weeks until we

:52:03.:52:07.

have a chance to send a message on all of this. The council elections

:52:08.:52:13.

are a chance for us to show who we are. We have a message of hope, not

:52:14.:52:21.

division. A Liberal Democrat council elected council will be an advocate,

:52:22.:52:25.

not a cheerleader for independence. They will be an advocate for better

:52:26.:52:31.

mental health, for investment in education, for a stronger economy

:52:32.:52:35.

against a Conservative hard Brexit, for Scotland in the United Kingdom.

:52:36.:52:39.

And for an end to the council tax. That's a positive plan of action for

:52:40.:52:43.

every part of Scotland. APPLAUSE

:52:44.:52:54.

As you would expect, I've been knocking on doors and speaking with

:52:55.:53:01.

voters across the country. I have joined some of our excellent

:53:02.:53:06.

candidates who are leading the way. Carol Ford from Glasgow Trish

:53:07.:53:14.

Robertson, Clare Graham from Musselburgh, Rosie O'Neill, Lauren

:53:15.:53:19.

Jones, Kevin Lang, I'm not going to list them all, Ben Laurie, Chris

:53:20.:53:27.

Dickinson, Katrina Campbell, I have been on the doors with Alex and Liam

:53:28.:53:34.

and Mike who have been working hard at Holyrood and then getting out to

:53:35.:53:38.

support our local candidates in the evenings. First class. Dedicated

:53:39.:53:44.

advocates for their communities, all and everyone of them and I want

:53:45.:53:47.

everyone of you here to support them.

:53:48.:54:00.

APPLAUSE We have a great team. We need strong

:54:01.:54:07.

liberal voices for the challenges we all have ahead. The optimistic

:54:08.:54:13.

forces. The liberal case. The international posture. It needs

:54:14.:54:18.

standard bearers. As we face the forces of division, we have to ask

:54:19.:54:23.

ourselves who we are, and what we will do. The question that will be

:54:24.:54:30.

asked of us in years to come when people ask about this time is this -

:54:31.:54:41.

what did you do? When the world in 2016 and 2017 faced Brexit, Trump,

:54:42.:54:51.

Le Pen in France, Vilders in the Netherlands, what did you do? What

:54:52.:54:56.

did you do when our country of 300 years faced break-up? I don't want

:54:57.:55:01.

just to say that we mocked them for their terrible hair! I want to be

:55:02.:55:09.

able to say we stood strong more the international liberal answer the we

:55:10.:55:15.

stood with Justin through dough for refugees with a manual macron for

:55:16.:55:23.

social progress, for D# 6 and Mark Riter in the Netherlands for values

:55:24.:55:28.

and for the positive values for the hole of the UK free from the

:55:29.:55:32.

division of the SNP. We will be able to say we stood for a better, open,

:55:33.:55:39.

positive world, based on partnership, trust and generosity of

:55:40.:55:43.

spirit. What did we do? We did the liberal thing and we got back to

:55:44.:55:49.

winning again. Thank you. APPLAUSE

:55:50.:56:03.

Willie Rennie there receiving a standing ovation at the Lib Dem

:56:04.:56:10.

spring conference in Perth. He said the debate on the constitution is

:56:11.:56:14.

personal. It's about family, community, destiny. He said the

:56:15.:56:18.

economic case for independence was weaker than in 2014. He said the new

:56:19.:56:23.

case for the UK is positive and uplifting. He said a Brexit deal

:56:24.:56:27.

referendum is a right and democratic thing to do. A Scottish independence

:56:28.:56:32.

would leave Scotland out of the UK and the EU and he said he would

:56:33.:56:37.

stand up for the majority of Scotlanders saying that he stood up

:56:38.:56:41.

for the UK and the EU, federalism, the long-term future for the UK. He

:56:42.:56:46.

announced a cross-party group on federalism too. Professor John

:56:47.:56:51.

Curtis is still with me watching the pictures in the hall in Perth. John,

:56:52.:56:56.

just your initial reaction to Willie Rennie's speech? Well there, is the

:56:57.:57:00.

third conference speech that we have had of the Scottish party season and

:57:01.:57:04.

it is another conference speech where the issue of whether or not

:57:05.:57:07.

there should or shouldn't be a referendum has been central and

:57:08.:57:10.

indeed a speech which almost yet again seems to be written on the

:57:11.:57:16.

assumption that Nicola Sturgeon at some point in the not too distant

:57:17.:57:19.

future will be asking for a second independence referendum. In add van

:57:20.:57:26.

of today's speech we were told Mr Rennie would layout the emotional

:57:27.:57:30.

case for staying inside the EU. That case seemed to be basically a belief

:57:31.:57:36.

that the United Kingdom is actually a progressive, compassionate country

:57:37.:57:40.

in his point of view and that's reflected in his work in Oxfam and

:57:41.:57:43.

the National Health Service, etcetera. I'm not quite sure this

:57:44.:57:49.

will necessarily go down as a major contribution and a major original

:57:50.:57:53.

contribution to the case for the European Union, for Scotland

:57:54.:57:56.

remaining inside the UK. What was the rather more interesting part of

:57:57.:58:01.

the speech was the argument in which he suggested that actually although

:58:02.:58:05.

the reason why perhaps we might have a second independence referendum is

:58:06.:58:08.

because Scotland voted Remain inside the European Union. That actually

:58:09.:58:13.

perhaps the SNP will ditch that argument as if indeed the referendum

:58:14.:58:16.

is called because of an awareness that around one in three of those

:58:17.:58:21.

who voted yes in September 2014 actually voted to leave the European

:58:22.:58:26.

Union and are therefore trying to predicate the argument for

:58:27.:58:29.

independence as a means of keeping Scotland inside the European Union

:58:30.:58:33.

may provide divisive. That was interesting. I think a different

:58:34.:58:40.

line of attack on the SNP. In a sense a notice to the SNP if they

:58:41.:58:44.

try to do that, Willie Rennie will be reminding us why are we having

:58:45.:58:47.

this referendum to keep Scotland inside the European Union, why have

:58:48.:58:51.

we dropped it and the Liberal Democrats will keep on going on

:58:52.:58:53.

about it. That was the most interesting part of the speech. He

:58:54.:58:57.

is trying to do, as we suggested at the beginning of the programme, is

:58:58.:59:01.

to suggest it is only the Liberal Democrats who are the pro-European

:59:02.:59:06.

party. He wants to undermine the credentials of the SNP on that

:59:07.:59:09.

count. John, thank you very much. Well, let's head back to the

:59:10.:59:13.

conference hall in Perth for live reaction now. Brian Taylor is

:59:14.:59:19.

standing by with some guests. Brian. Two SNPs. What was playing the Who

:59:20.:59:33.

and Teenage Wasteland? It was a barn storming speech. Let's talk about

:59:34.:59:37.

the European referendum. You want a further one on the Brexit terms and

:59:38.:59:40.

he was trying to suggest that the SNP cannot be trusted on European

:59:41.:59:43.

Union membership and the best way to keep Scotland in the EU is through

:59:44.:59:50.

the UK, really? Article 50 is about to be triggered we've leaving as the

:59:51.:59:54.

UK surely? We are the only party who stands in the space occupied by the

:59:55.:59:59.

majority of the Scottish people who voted to reject independence in 14

:00:00.:00:03.

and voted to remain in the last referendum in 2016 and the policies

:00:04.:00:09.

we've under scored with that at this weekend, underpin us as the main

:00:10.:00:12.

party. Those people should gather to, who want to stay in the UK and

:00:13.:00:17.

want to stay in the EU. I get it, you corrale these two things

:00:18.:00:20.

together, but it's stretching it a bit, is it not, to say the way for

:00:21.:00:24.

Scotland to stay in the EU is to stay attached to a United Kingdom

:00:25.:00:27.

that's on the verge of leaving the European Union, we're about to

:00:28.:00:30.

trigger the departure signal, surely? The argument Willie was

:00:31.:00:36.

getting across, it is evident from the remarks from Jim Sellers and

:00:37.:00:42.

others and indeed the way the vote panned out amongst yes supporters,

:00:43.:00:46.

the support for Brexit, for Leave was significant and a party that's

:00:47.:00:49.

been hell bent on independence at any cost over the last number of

:00:50.:00:54.

years cannot be trusted. I think your argument for remaining part of

:00:55.:00:58.

the European Union, where you're collaborating with your partners,

:00:59.:01:00.

where you give-and-take is undermined, if at the same time

:01:01.:01:05.

you're making exactly the reverse argument within the context of the

:01:06.:01:10.

union you're currently a member of. Jim Sellers doesn't speak for the

:01:11.:01:15.

SNP? He speaks for a large part of the yes in the nationalist movement

:01:16.:01:19.

and that hasn't been discounted. The point Willie was making. We have

:01:20.:01:23.

heard little from Alex Salmond or from Mike Russell. Two people who

:01:24.:01:27.

have never been shy of grabbing any available mic at the first

:01:28.:01:31.

opportunity to give the Scots the been fit of their wisdom. Clarify

:01:32.:01:35.

things, Alec. We have had others say, you guys as a party would vote

:01:36.:01:41.

against any means of bringing about a second independence referendum, a

:01:42.:01:44.

section 30 transfer? We stood for election last year on a mandate that

:01:45.:01:48.

was clear to oppose a second referendum on independence. And we

:01:49.:01:51.

have our instructions from the electorate so we will act

:01:52.:01:56.

accordingly and vote consistently to block a second referendum. Some

:01:57.:02:00.

would say you got your instruckses from the electorate on 23rd June

:02:01.:02:03.

which was to get out of the yurp, but you still want to have another

:02:04.:02:09.

referendum on that, on the terms, that's hypocrisy? Nearly 50% of the

:02:10.:02:13.

people of Great Britain would love to stay part of the EU, yet we are

:02:14.:02:18.

the only political party that stands with them in that firm mament, it is

:02:19.:02:22.

in the finest traditions of democracy... You lost on 23rd June.

:02:23.:02:27.

You lost. You lost the argument. You lost the vote. The SNP lost the

:02:28.:02:31.

independence referendum in 2014 yet you would never expect... You're

:02:32.:02:34.

trying to stop them from having a say. You want a second referendum on

:02:35.:02:40.

Europe? I think it is acceptable, except on the Brexit referendum in

:02:41.:02:44.

June last year, there was a vote to leave. I don't think anybody would

:02:45.:02:49.

dispute the fact that point of departure has been consented to by

:02:50.:02:52.

the British public. What they have not signed up to is the hard Brexit,

:02:53.:02:55.

the mandate that Theresa May and her colleagues seem to be hell bent on

:02:56.:02:58.

taking forward and I think it is only right that the British people

:02:59.:03:02.

have an opportunity to express their views on what that point of

:03:03.:03:08.

destination is. Is the difference in 2014 we had a White Paper, the White

:03:09.:03:16.

Paper you derided... I have met a few of the authors of that White

:03:17.:03:20.

Paper. Setting out proposals for independence and in 2016, there was

:03:21.:03:24.

no such thing. It was just a Brexit? The concept of what Brexit meant was

:03:25.:03:28.

very different depending on which leader of the Leave campaign you

:03:29.:03:32.

listened to. Subsequently some of the key messages from the Leave

:03:33.:03:36.

campaign about remaining part of the single market, not leaving the

:03:37.:03:41.

customs union, the ?350 million for our NHS, all of those have been cast

:03:42.:03:45.

aside. That calls into question the mandate. It makes it imperative that

:03:46.:03:50.

the British public have an opportunity to express their opinion

:03:51.:03:53.

on the detail of what it is that Theresa May and her colleagues

:03:54.:03:57.

finally negotiate. If they express that opinion, could it be in your

:03:58.:04:01.

view that Britain remains in the European Union rather than leaving

:04:02.:04:04.

as was suggested from 23rd June? Sepp

:04:05.:04:15.

That ?350 million to the NHS, for example, evaporated. When we

:04:16.:04:21.

understand what had Brexit means, the isolation and economic collapse,

:04:22.:04:26.

you will see that needle of public opinion move more in the favour of

:04:27.:04:29.

the decision and our party is taking at this conference to stand up for

:04:30.:04:33.

those who have an internationalist perspective on one based in the EU.

:04:34.:04:38.

Do you think there will be, regardless of your opposition, do

:04:39.:04:42.

you think there will be another independence referendum, perhaps

:04:43.:04:48.

next year? I think ever since the EU referendum Nicola Sturgeon has been

:04:49.:04:51.

using that as a Trojan horse to get another referendum and a crack at

:04:52.:04:56.

the whip. She will look at back at this, and should've won a look back

:04:57.:04:59.

in 20 years and they, what would've happened if I just pulled the

:05:00.:05:03.

trigger? There is almost certainty behind a second referendum. I think

:05:04.:05:10.

she's been dropping ever more obvious hints about her intentions.

:05:11.:05:13.

I think with the support of the Green Party in the Scottish

:05:14.:05:17.

Parliament she see a pathway towards it. I think however some of the

:05:18.:05:22.

apprehension she has shown up until now, is the fact she knows what the

:05:23.:05:26.

polls suggest, that there is an overwhelming desire to go down this

:05:27.:05:28.

route again, to open up the divisions that frankly, whatever the

:05:29.:05:33.

energising effect of that last referendum, the way it divided

:05:34.:05:37.

families, communities, workplaces, is not something many people want to

:05:38.:05:42.

see again. Would you fight it? Another better together? It looks

:05:43.:05:47.

like it wouldn't be. That is an interesting aspect. It took up the

:05:48.:05:52.

bulk of Willie Rennie's speech. The economic argument for independence

:05:53.:05:57.

is dead, is owned by Andrew Wilson and some of the White Paper itself.

:05:58.:06:02.

I think we see oil prices at the moment... He would not say he has

:06:03.:06:09.

disowned the argument. I think the economic argument now is not strong.

:06:10.:06:13.

Would you work with Labour and Tories? We need to find a more

:06:14.:06:17.

positive way of putting the argument, finding the things that

:06:18.:06:23.

unite us. Dum Project Fear and go for project positive? There needs to

:06:24.:06:26.

be a more positive argument. If you look at the Brexit campaign, by

:06:27.:06:30.

sticking to the dry figures there's an fear you end up losing. Could it

:06:31.:06:36.

be a joined up campaign with the three principal pro-European

:06:37.:06:40.

parties? One of the key principles of liberalism is pluralism. We

:06:41.:06:44.

believe we won't turn face against other parties, or groups who want to

:06:45.:06:48.

work together to make a positive case for us remaining in the United

:06:49.:06:51.

Kingdom. I think that is the only way we can take down that formidable

:06:52.:06:56.

Nationalists campaign that we saw in 2014, that has been gearing up for

:06:57.:06:59.

this for the last two years. They've been waiting for the go order. We

:07:00.:07:06.

ignore those other like-minded groups at our peril. Thank you for

:07:07.:07:09.

joining us. Particular grateful to you as you came here instead of

:07:10.:07:14.

watching the rugby. That is dedication! STUDIO: All very

:07:15.:07:18.

dedicated, thank you for that. Delegates at have also condemned the

:07:19.:07:22.

Chancellor's budget on Wednesday as fundamentally unfair. They accused

:07:23.:07:26.

the UK Government of piling the greater burden on people who, as

:07:27.:07:29.

they put it, are feeling the Brexit squeeze. Lord Purvis said it was

:07:30.:07:37.

affirmation of the cost of Brexit on our pockets.

:07:38.:07:41.

With the context of Brexit, the hardest of hardest of Brexit is the

:07:42.:07:44.

government wished to bring, what is the budget we see within that

:07:45.:07:49.

context? Well, the sound constitutional reasons the House of

:07:50.:07:52.

Lords will not be voting on this budget but we will have a voice. I

:07:53.:07:56.

will certainly have a voice. That voice will be highlighting that we

:07:57.:08:00.

believe it is unfair for very many thousands of people in Scotland

:08:01.:08:04.

working very hard who are self-employed. But it does say

:08:05.:08:08.

something, does it not conference, when perhaps the least popular

:08:09.:08:13.

Chancellor in living memory, Norman Lamont, criticise the budget and the

:08:14.:08:17.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson supported it? What does that mean?

:08:18.:08:21.

That means that it highlights perhaps more than anything else the

:08:22.:08:25.

difference between the conservative approach to budgets and finance and

:08:26.:08:30.

ours. We have budget fairness that is the hallmark of our approach.

:08:31.:08:35.

Yes, investing in public services, but making sure that those who had

:08:36.:08:40.

the broadest shoulders carry most of the burden. With Ruth Davidson it is

:08:41.:08:44.

the other way round. She had the audacity even this week, to say that

:08:45.:08:48.

any increase budget for the Scottish parliament should be used as tax

:08:49.:08:53.

breaks for the wealthiest. We will be campaigning in Price and across

:08:54.:08:58.

the UK as a combined Liberal Democrat party against these

:08:59.:09:02.

changes. I am self-employed and these tax

:09:03.:09:05.

changes affect me directly. I want to say first I don't necessarily

:09:06.:09:09.

object to paying higher taxes. We should increase taxes, what I

:09:10.:09:16.

disagree with is the Chancellor's assertions of employed people now

:09:17.:09:19.

apparently have the same benefits as employed people. Which made no sense

:09:20.:09:23.

to me when I heard it, it made no sense to me the third, fourth, fifth

:09:24.:09:27.

or sixth time I read it. I would like to give you some examples of

:09:28.:09:31.

how self employed people don't have the same benefits. I don't have the

:09:32.:09:34.

right to an employer pension, which won't be compulsory in the next

:09:35.:09:39.

couple of years. I don't have any entitlement to holiday pay or sixth

:09:40.:09:42.

leave or anything like that. I don't have the ability to access a union

:09:43.:09:48.

if I want. All of these things are things I have sacrificed in order to

:09:49.:09:51.

work in the industry I've chosen. That is my choice, and I'm willing

:09:52.:09:55.

to accept the consequences of that, but to say I get the same deals as

:09:56.:10:00.

employed people is not true. Public services like education and

:10:01.:10:04.

mental health desperately starved of funds, the Chancellor provide is no

:10:05.:10:13.

money to invest in these services that are desperately needed.

:10:14.:10:20.

Instead, what do we have? We have ?60 billion, a massive sum, ?60

:10:21.:10:25.

billion as a contingency fund for Brexit. That is what the Chancellor

:10:26.:10:29.

thinks Brexit is going to cost the country. I don't remember the leaves

:10:30.:10:33.

campaign putting that up on their buses, Vote Leave and it will cost

:10:34.:10:38.

you ?60 billion. That's just one of the many misrepresentations of the

:10:39.:10:43.

Leave campaign. And the one thing that people do remember about the

:10:44.:10:48.

budget was that national insurance increased for the self-employed. A

:10:49.:10:51.

blatant breach of the manifesto pledge. Remember the Tory

:10:52.:10:56.

manifesto... David Cameron and George Osborne proudly proclaiming

:10:57.:11:01.

no increases of income tax, VAT on national insurance. No mention of

:11:02.:11:09.

any small print, a blatant breach of a manifesto pledge. Now we have a

:11:10.:11:14.

party know full well that damage breaking a manifesto pledge can cost

:11:15.:11:18.

you. So let's make it perfectly clear that the Tories have broken a

:11:19.:11:21.

manifesto pledge on the country should not forgive them for it. We

:11:22.:11:26.

already have the lowest population tax rate in the G20, but bear in

:11:27.:11:34.

mind a company actually has to pay tax before this kicks in. We need a

:11:35.:11:40.

progressive, simplified tax system. Arguably national insurance should

:11:41.:11:49.

be linked to PAYE. These lines are being blurred. Rather than shifting

:11:50.:11:53.

the limited amount of money around, let's have a party that leads from

:11:54.:11:56.

the front in terms of progressive tax policy across the board.

:11:57.:12:01.

One of our strongest selling point is local economy. It something we

:12:02.:12:06.

need to invest in but we are aware, as two local authorities, there is a

:12:07.:12:11.

brain train. Because of the lack of infrastructure investment, lack of

:12:12.:12:14.

broadband or transport or opportunities for our younger

:12:15.:12:16.

people, our creative industries are dying. This is not going to help. I

:12:17.:12:23.

can't believe the Conservatives can be so blind sighted in not

:12:24.:12:26.

representing our communities well, particularly where we have great

:12:27.:12:30.

talent coming out the Scottish Borders and elsewhere in Scotland in

:12:31.:12:34.

creative industries and other areas that could support real

:12:35.:12:37.

entrepreneurial spirit. Conservatives yet again, you have

:12:38.:12:40.

let the UK down, you have let Scotland down, you have let -- let

:12:41.:12:44.

the Liberal Democrats lead the way. APPLAUSE

:12:45.:12:49.

Some of the applause at the end of the budget debate at the Lib Dem

:12:50.:12:54.

conference. Brian is back now with some guests. He has got hold of some

:12:55.:12:58.

delegates. Indeed so. Thank you. You introduced

:12:59.:13:06.

Willie Rennie. Presumably you liked the speech? Yes, yes, I thought it

:13:07.:13:10.

was fantastic. It really got across the message, they EU appeal, the

:13:11.:13:20.

emotions that people feel, people feeling the possibility of a second

:13:21.:13:24.

independence referendum is dividing them from their families. Instead of

:13:25.:13:31.

attacking he was trying to make this passionate case for the union. That

:13:32.:13:35.

struck me as a bit different. We've heard it before perhaps but a bit

:13:36.:13:39.

different. This is important, it is ultimately about people's lives. The

:13:40.:13:42.

same as Brexit. People's families are being torn apart and it's just,

:13:43.:13:49.

it's not acceptable that we don't consider the human aspect of it all.

:13:50.:13:56.

Chris, you got a name check so presumably you are very happy?

:13:57.:14:00.

Absolutely, delighted. It comes down to the hard work local council

:14:01.:14:05.

candidates are doing in the campaign to identify issues in their local

:14:06.:14:08.

communities and be local champions. Holding the government to account on

:14:09.:14:11.

so many of their failings. You didn't get a name check and you

:14:12.:14:16.

didn't introduce him, but we can count your one of the tribe he

:14:17.:14:20.

wanted out there, is that right? What did you make of the speech? Are

:14:21.:14:25.

far too long the SNP have tried to claim heart means independence. What

:14:26.:14:32.

Willie did today is saying heart is part of us being proud of our

:14:33.:14:36.

country, part of the UK, part of the EU, we are the only party doing

:14:37.:14:40.

that. It's uplifting, it's a message of hope. We need to deny what the

:14:41.:14:44.

SNP is saying is the truth because it's not. He did say that and said

:14:45.:14:47.

it very strongly, said that the majority position in Scotland.

:14:48.:14:51.

That's one job to translate from that into support on the doorsteps.

:14:52.:14:56.

Not just a council elections but generally. You have struggled in the

:14:57.:15:00.

last few elections at Westminster and Holyrood. Yes, but in the last

:15:01.:15:05.

year we have won 31 council by-elections. Won Richmond, got

:15:06.:15:12.

close in Whitby and close in Copeland. People don't want a second

:15:13.:15:16.

referendum on independence and also the upset people felt in England

:15:17.:15:20.

with Brexit is what we experienced in Scotland. You said you don't want

:15:21.:15:25.

a second referendum on independence but Willie Rennie's speech was

:15:26.:15:29.

predicated on the fact it looks like it will happen. We don't want one

:15:30.:15:33.

and we feel we are stronger together as part of the United Kingdom as a

:15:34.:15:37.

family and into our European allies. We need to be bringing the walls

:15:38.:15:41.

down, not putting artificial barriers up. We live in the 21st

:15:42.:15:45.

century, in a global society, where the world is becoming smaller.

:15:46.:15:48.

Therefore putting artificial barriers up really doesn't, in terms

:15:49.:15:53.

of supporting humanity, we need to be outward looking. Unless you are

:15:54.:15:58.

to have a world government, and you would probably advocate one, you

:15:59.:16:06.

have to have a government somewhere. And some would say the Scottish

:16:07.:16:09.

Government should gain full powers they were described as normal

:16:10.:16:15.

situation. The United Kingdom needs a federal structure, which we are

:16:16.:16:19.

working towards. The commission is already out there. As you had in the

:16:20.:16:23.

speech today, for a federal United Kingdom, where we can make all the

:16:24.:16:28.

parties in the United Kingdom mark fairly represented. How would you do

:16:29.:16:34.

it? That's to be decided by England. Come on, you put forward federalism,

:16:35.:16:37.

you have to have a vague idea of what it is. We do. We have

:16:38.:16:41.

parliament in Scotland, we helped to set that up and we helped the

:16:42.:16:45.

Parliament in Wales. We have an assembly Northern Ireland. We need

:16:46.:16:48.

our English counterparts to play their part and define how they would

:16:49.:16:51.

like. Scottish parliament was defined by the Scottish people and

:16:52.:16:57.

Scottish in Scotland. We need our England English colleagues to do the

:16:58.:17:02.

same. I put to other representatives earlier on the programme here, you

:17:03.:17:06.

want a second referendum on the terms of Brexit. I understand the

:17:07.:17:10.

argument is different from the principle, but it does sound a bit

:17:11.:17:14.

like having another go because you didn't like the out come the first

:17:15.:17:18.

time round. It sounds like trying to overturn the verdict from June 23.

:17:19.:17:23.

Here we have to give credit to the SNP because they gave us a White

:17:24.:17:27.

Paper before the independence referendum. A bit different. Yes, we

:17:28.:17:31.

didn't have that for the EU referendum. People didn't

:17:32.:17:33.

essentially know what they were voting for. You were voting in or

:17:34.:17:39.

out of the European Union and they voted out. You're trying to reverse

:17:40.:17:43.

that, isn't that anti-democratic? We're not trying to reverse it at

:17:44.:17:47.

all, we're trying to find out what exactly it is people mean by that.

:17:48.:17:52.

In and out, that's so black and white. The issue is so much more

:17:53.:17:55.

complicated. Parliamentarians standing where you are now said it

:17:56.:18:00.

could be that if you vote against the terms, the alternative is we

:18:01.:18:04.

stay in the European Union. In other words you would be reversing June 23

:18:05.:18:09.

if people change their mind. I think the point is it's not as that would

:18:10.:18:14.

be asked reversing it, the people would be reversing it. What is

:18:15.:18:17.

really frustrating when Tory MPs go on about the will of the people, as

:18:18.:18:24.

if those who wanted to remain aren't people as well. This is about

:18:25.:18:31.

saying, OK... But you hold a referendum, an election, some person

:18:32.:18:33.

gets more votes than the other one, the person that gets more votes

:18:34.:18:38.

wins. Then you can reverse it again in four years. I think the point

:18:39.:18:42.

about the independence referendum is we didn't know what we were voting

:18:43.:18:46.

for. There wasn't enough detail. We had two years in Scotland, three

:18:47.:18:51.

months is not enough. Is in a bit cheeky to be castigating the SNP for

:18:52.:18:55.

having a second referendum on independence when you want a second

:18:56.:18:58.

referendum on the European Union? Some might say that is hypocrisy in

:18:59.:19:03.

the extreme. Not at all. We had some of the detail in the independence

:19:04.:19:06.

referendum about the kind of Scotland they envisioned that we

:19:07.:19:10.

rejected it wholeheartedly to say there wasn't an economic argument or

:19:11.:19:12.

it wasn't favourable for Scotland. With Brexit there was none of that

:19:13.:19:17.

detail. We're now going to a hypothetical negotiating table with

:19:18.:19:20.

terms that nobody in the United Kingdom had prior to that. Take the

:19:21.:19:25.

?250 million put on the side of the busts. Where is that pledge now?

:19:26.:19:29.

Nonexistent, under the carpet. That is the difference. That's what we

:19:30.:19:34.

are calling for, to know what the terms of our EU engagement would be

:19:35.:19:37.

and then the people can make that decision. Let me ask you each in

:19:38.:19:42.

turn, do you think there will be a second referendum on independence

:19:43.:19:47.

and if so when? At this point I think it does look likely. I can't

:19:48.:19:53.

say when, but we will fight to not have that happen, because at this

:19:54.:19:58.

point... Fight independently or with Labour and the Conservatives? At

:19:59.:20:03.

this point I would say no, but I can't be sure. If and when? It's

:20:04.:20:11.

possible, it will be in two years, five years or ten years. That seems

:20:12.:20:15.

to be what the SNP want to do. But we as a political party are saying

:20:16.:20:19.

no to an independence referendum and will stand, federalism platform. I

:20:20.:20:25.

think we are stuck with it, Nicola is determined to drag us back to

:20:26.:20:28.

that division. I suspect it will happen. She talked about this

:20:29.:20:33.

common-sense point of autumn 2018. I think it's outrageous she says

:20:34.:20:36.

common sense when she wants it. Be later than that. The Tories are

:20:37.:20:40.

saying not before the Brexit terms. I'm against her term of common sense

:20:41.:20:45.

being another referendum. The point is whenever it happens, we are the

:20:46.:20:51.

ones leading the fight. We are the clear ones, with a clear position on

:20:52.:20:55.

the EU and the UK. Thank you all three very much indeed for joining

:20:56.:21:00.

me here at the conference in Perth. Back to the studio.

:21:01.:21:03.

Thank you for all your efforts this afternoon at the conference. No

:21:04.:21:07.

delegates at the conference have backed the decriminalisation of drug

:21:08.:21:11.

possession for personal use. During the debate yesterday they also

:21:12.:21:14.

called on the Scottish Government to support safe injection facilities

:21:15.:21:18.

for heroin users wherever they are needed.

:21:19.:21:27.

One last -- at long last safe injection sites are being considered

:21:28.:21:33.

but we have to consider safety measures. They are using street

:21:34.:21:40.

heroin. Problematic drug users are also the most impoverished group in

:21:41.:21:44.

society. Safe injection sites don't alleviate this poverty. The users

:21:45.:21:49.

still need to find that ?100 from somewhere. We don't have to make

:21:50.:21:52.

them find that money, if we just provided the heroin in the clinic,

:21:53.:21:57.

the user can stop breaking the law, start thinking about jobs, family

:21:58.:22:00.

and housing. In all the studies done in many countries now, heroin is

:22:01.:22:04.

more effective and more cost-effective than methadone are

:22:05.:22:07.

helping people get their lives back on track. If you can't relate to the

:22:08.:22:11.

problematic drug user, then maybe you can relate to their family, as I

:22:12.:22:17.

do. They finally found the right drug for my brother's mental illness

:22:18.:22:22.

and I got my brother back. There are over 60,000 problem drug users in

:22:23.:22:25.

Scotland but tens of thousands of families facing the dilemma no

:22:26.:22:28.

family should face. Do you hold your loved ones close or do you push them

:22:29.:22:38.

away and live a life, a half life in constant dread of the knock on the

:22:39.:22:42.

door from the policeman telling you it finally got them.

:22:43.:22:47.

The quality of drugs finally going into the public is not of a

:22:48.:22:51.

sufficient safe quantity level that we can allow into clubs. The effect

:22:52.:22:57.

of somebody convulsing in front of you is damaging to the members of

:22:58.:23:01.

staff, to all of those who are trying to use the entertainment

:23:02.:23:06.

venue, to all of those around them. Particularly I draw your attention

:23:07.:23:11.

to the line, local authorities to make licensing decisions based on

:23:12.:23:16.

venues' efforts to keep their customers safe, rather than efforts

:23:17.:23:19.

to assist police in enforcing drug laws.

:23:20.:23:23.

If that were to say in concert with or alongside, I could support it.

:23:24.:23:28.

But where it said rather than, I simply cannot support it. We must

:23:29.:23:32.

work with all the intelligence, all the support we can, to make it

:23:33.:23:37.

safer, to make people safer, to make the event, live music, a safer place

:23:38.:23:42.

to be. There was a patient of mine who was

:23:43.:23:45.

a single mother and came in with bruising all over her face. It

:23:46.:23:49.

brought home to me the impact of what was happening. She'd been up by

:23:50.:23:54.

a dealer for not paying for her heroin. Decriminalising possession

:23:55.:24:02.

is not the same as legalising. The controlled availability of heroin on

:24:03.:24:05.

the NHS would reduce the power of dealers, which should be vigorously

:24:06.:24:12.

pursued. We need to treat heroin addiction as an illness and not as a

:24:13.:24:16.

crime. I worry that the media are more

:24:17.:24:21.

likely to report on our attitude to drugs in general, and this motion in

:24:22.:24:25.

particular, rather than what I see as the much more crucial motions

:24:26.:24:30.

which we are tackling at this conference. Of course I recognise

:24:31.:24:35.

the drugs problem that we have and the enormous human and financial

:24:36.:24:39.

burden and cost which they impose upon families, on society and the

:24:40.:24:45.

country. We do have a policy on drugs, which includes prevention and

:24:46.:24:50.

treatment centres. They do need more support. That's already a Lib Dem

:24:51.:24:55.

policy. So I perhaps ask you that we vote against this motion and leave

:24:56.:25:02.

our current Lib Dem policies as they are at the moment.

:25:03.:25:05.

We provide support for those who suffer addiction of tobacco and

:25:06.:25:11.

alcohol but not for harder drugs. There is no autonomy where there is

:25:12.:25:16.

addiction, at least in a system of supervision there is someone that

:25:17.:25:19.

knows that you are going to come in every week for that drug. If you

:25:20.:25:24.

push them out of that system, if you push them to go to the streets and

:25:25.:25:29.

take any cocktail of drugs, then there is not someone there who is

:25:30.:25:31.

going to expect you there the next week. So even if you fall out of the

:25:32.:25:36.

cycle, there is someone that knows you should be there and someone can

:25:37.:25:40.

be flagged when that doesn't happen. That was a look at the drugs debate

:25:41.:25:46.

yesterday at the conference. Now, just a final thought from Professor

:25:47.:25:49.

John Curtis as we head towards the end of our coverage. John, just as

:25:50.:25:53.

we touched on at the very beginning of the programme, the Lib Dems

:25:54.:25:57.

facing their next big electoral test, local government election in

:25:58.:26:02.

May. How might they perform in Scotland?

:26:03.:26:06.

If you have been listening very closely to the coverage of this

:26:07.:26:10.

conference, you may have heard a lot about Colorado. That's not a

:26:11.:26:14.

reference to the seminal battle in the history of this nation but a

:26:15.:26:18.

by-election that took place a few weeks ago which the Lib Dems won and

:26:19.:26:21.

they took a seat from the SNP. They want to convince us this is enough

:26:22.:26:27.

evidence of a significant rise of their support in Scotland. I'm

:26:28.:26:30.

afraid the figures don't quite back that claim. Lib Dem vote with 70% of

:26:31.:26:37.

the first preference vote, up three points from five points previously

:26:38.:26:40.

thought why did they win the Seacrest about we have pressure

:26:41.:26:45.

control voting in elections in Scotland and lots of conservatives

:26:46.:26:51.

an independent voters gave them at first preference. More broadly, if

:26:52.:26:55.

you look at Liberal Democrat performance in local government

:26:56.:26:57.

by-elections in Scotland since May of last year, on average, the share

:26:58.:27:06.

of the first preference vote is up by just 2%. Given they only got six

:27:07.:27:12.

or 7% back in 2015, in 2012, this frankly isn't good enough. It

:27:13.:27:16.

contrasts sharply with the performance of the party in local

:27:17.:27:20.

government by-elections south of the border. Since September of last

:27:21.:27:24.

year, an average where the Liberal Democrats have fought the war that

:27:25.:27:28.

they've fought back in 2015-16, their vote has been up on average 14

:27:29.:27:33.

points. It's been very varied. Some places with spectacular Lib Dem

:27:34.:27:37.

victories, elsewhere they haven't made much progress at all. It is the

:27:38.:27:41.

semblance south of the border at least, in certain circumstances,

:27:42.:27:48.

where there is a local issue to exploit, voters have begun to forget

:27:49.:27:51.

coalition and tuition fees and everything they didn't like about

:27:52.:27:53.

the coalition and the party is perhaps regaining its role as the

:27:54.:27:58.

party of protest. The truth is, north of the border neither in the

:27:59.:28:01.

opinion polls or local government by-elections is there evidence of

:28:02.:28:05.

that happening. The truth is the Liberal Democrats could discover on

:28:06.:28:10.

the 5th of May that in so far as recreating their local government

:28:11.:28:12.

base in Scotland is concerned, they have made much progress at all.

:28:13.:28:18.

Given that the government base has always been a crucial foundation. If

:28:19.:28:22.

that is what happens, it could be bad news for the party indeed. Thank

:28:23.:28:26.

you very much for that and for being with us for the duration of the

:28:27.:28:30.

programme. The next week for the SNP conference.

:28:31.:28:33.

That is the end of our live coverage. More on the Lib Dems on,

:28:34.:28:40.

's Sunday politics Scotland. The UK shows starts at 11 on BBC One

:28:41.:28:43.

Scotland. Now, from the team at the

:28:44.:28:47.

conference, and from all of us here in the studio, thank you very much

:28:48.:28:51.

for being with us. Do enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Bye-bye for now.

:28:52.:28:56.

Coverage of the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party Conference from the Dewars Centre in Perth, including keynote speech by Willie Rennie.

Presented by Andrew Kerr.